BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA/KOSOVO*/MONTENEGRO/NORTH MACEDONIA/SERBIA – Supported by RYCO and the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund through the second RYCO Open Call for Project Proposals, Udruženje Otvorene Zabavne Škola from Bosnia and Herzegovina, in partnership with Otvoreni Zabavni Fudbalski Školi from North Macedonia, Sportsko Udruzenje Otvorene Zabavne Skole Fudbala from Serbia, CCPA from Kosovo and NVO Sport Spaja from Montenegro implemented the project “Balkan Youth Democracy Dialogue Platform”.
The project took place from December 2019 to November 2020 and enhanced regional youth cooperation by establishing an online platform for youth to collaborate and exchange ideas on democratisation and reconciliation.
Despite the majority of the project taking place in an online format without the possibility to travel and meet, young participants managed to overcome the challenges and connect with one another in the region by using technology and online tools.
“The energy between youth is what fuels the progress. Their desire to connect, to learn and to play a significant role in the society is overwhelming and it is hurtful to hear their stories of struggle when they try to find their place within the local communities. But, on the other hand, youth are very vocal and very clear in projections of their future, and it is inspiring to see that they are not afraid to demand for it,” Project Coordinator Ms Vildana Delalić Elezović emphasized.
Throughout the activities held, youth attended online seminars and working sessions which focused on providing them with sport leadership skills and empowerment to tackle the challenges in their communities. Moreover, they also learnt about democratic civil society engagement, the importance of reconciliation and the power of regional cooperation.
“It was a pleasure for me to be a part of this important regional initiative during which I met young people from the region and learned a lot from them. Together we realized that there are problems and challenges but also solutions,” Ms Emilija Smiljković, project participant stated.
Speaking of the friendships made, Ms Kristina Danilova, another project participant added: “We realized that in three days it is possible to form friendships that will last for years. We are united by the love for socializing and the fact that at the end of the day, we are all the same.”
By establishing a platform for youth dialogue, the participants had the chance to share their ideas and vision for a better region as well as to discuss possible opportunities for direct involvement in their communities through youth mobility and cooperation.
“The most important highlight was the conclusion that youth want to travel, to get together with people from the region. They share the exact same issues and struggles, and most importantly do see the solutions binding them together,” Ms Delalić Elezović concluded.
The project “Balkan Youth Democracy Dialogue Platform” facilitated online and offline youth exchange and enabled young people from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia to build new bridges for stronger youth cooperation in the region.
*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.